What ‘trick’ worked for Congress in Telangana

Strap: The party’s campaign centered around its seven-point guarantee card

Telangana Congress victory assembly elections Supporters of India's main opposition party, Indian National Congress, celebrate early leads for their party in Telangana state elections in Hyderabad| AP

The Congress’ victory in Telangana coming is the only source of cheer for the party on results day. Party leaders involved in the strategising for the southern state point out what worked for it in the state unlike the northern states where it lost.

According to a senior Congress leader, the party may have been seen as an outlier in the election till some months back, but it had begun planning and executing its electioneering in the state a year in advance.

The leader emphasised that the election planning in Telangana was completely under the control and monitoring of the AICC unlike in the other states where the state stalwarts were given a free hand.

“The foundation of the victory in Telangana was laid during the Bharat Jodo Yatra and the win in Karnataka also had a big influence in the state,” the leader said.

The scale of the Congress’ victory can be gauged from the fact that the party had only six seats in the Vidhan Sabha.

As the Bharat Jodo Yatra passed through the state, Rahul and AICC in charge of organisation K. C. Venugopal had met leaders who were aligned with the party as also those who were making discordant noises. An effort was made to get everyone on board and project a united face.

After the yatra, PCC chief Revanth Reddy and Leader of Opposition Malluvikramadityabati attended a meeting at the AICC headquarters in Delhi which was convened by Congress President Mallikarjun Kharge, the purpose of the exercise being to convey the message of unity.

On the lines of the Bharat Jodo Yatra, the state unit carried out padayatras, mainly led by the PCC chief and the Leader of Opposition.

Simultaneously, the Congress appointed two observers at the state level and conducted surveys to understand the mood of the people and what the people thought about the ruling KCR dispensation.

Tickets were distributed solely on the basis of the survey conducted to ascertain the most influential leaders at the grassroots level.

The comprehensive electioneering mechanism put in place in the state included a five-layer surveillance system and senior leaders from various states were made observers in charge of parliamentary constituencies. Special observers were appointed for clusters of four to five constituencies and they were tasked with studying the problems of the minorities and the marginalised.

To ensure infighting and rebellion did not rear its head, Venugopal camped in Telangana and coordinated the election activities. Venugopal, who was in charge of coordinating the Telangana elections, was in regular online and face-to-face discussions with the leaders from the constituency to the booth level.

It is also believed that the Congress Working Committee meeting held in Hyderabad also helped in building a momentum for the party in the state.

Rallies addressed by central leaders, including Kharge and the Gandhis, got a good response from the people.

The party’s campaign was centered around its seven-point guarantee card.

Now that the election is won, the party is getting ready to deal with contesting claims for the top post. This will not be an easy decision to make for the party leadership. Revanth Reddy is being seen as the frontrunner, but there is a lot of opposition to his leadership from within the state unit and there are several claimants to the chief minister’s post.

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